How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 2 Weeks (Free Step-By-Step Guide)

With only 14 days to go before the next half marathon, you could start wondering if you can make it.

It might sound like an unachievable goal, and we’re not going to lie. It’s going to be quite a challenge.

However, it isn’t entirely impossible, especially if you have previous experience with competitive running events.

By the end of this post, you’ll know how to prepare for a half marathon in 2 weeks only, so hang tight!

What It Takes to Run a Half Marathon

The 5k “fun run” might be the most common racing event, but it’s not as intense as a half marathon. Yet, if you’ve made the 5k and 10k, you’re probably ready to take on a longer race.

So, do you have what it takes to prepare for the 13.1-mile race in two weeks? Let’s figure out what makes a half marathon runner:

A Healthy Body

Some people can run with health conditions like hypertension and diabetes, as long as the disease is well controlled.

However, it’s always better to ask your consulting physician if joining this race is a safe choice for you.

When you’re cleared to run, remember to wear a tag with important medical info in case of an emergency.

A Strong Willpower

Even if you’re an experienced runner, completing a 13.1-mile track can be challenging, and the training itself isn’t a walk in the park either.

You have to commit your time and effort to the duration of those two weeks. There’ll be times when you hit the wall, but you’ll have to take a breath and push through it.

Once you cross that finish line, it’s all going to be worth it, though. Keep that end goal in sight and let it motivate you.

A Bit of Endurance

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 2 Weeks: Endurance

It could be hard for a beginner runner to go from a sedentary lifestyle to completing a half marathon race in only a week or two.

It helps immensely to acquire some running endurance before you jump to the training plan. It’ll make things go smoother and safer.

If you run regularly and join competitive racing events like 10k or even the 5k on a regular basis, then you’re all set for endurance.

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 2 Weeks: Simple Training Plan

A typical half marathon training schedule is longer than two months, and the final week or two are usually set aside for recovery.

However, with only two weeks to go, you don’t have the luxury of a long taper period. Instead, you have to reach peak mileage by day 10 or so and ease down the remaining days.

Even the best training plan will only take you so far. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself falling into the smallest mistakes that could potentially ruin your racing experience.

Here’s how to adjust your two-week plan:

Gradually Increase Your Mileage

For your first week, run every other day. This means you’ll run on days one, three, five, and seven. In between your running sessions, take up long walks or light exercise.

Start with an interval run for four miles on day one. Gradually pump your training mileage to a 10-mile run on the last day of the week.

For day nine of the training, try to push yourself to 13 miles, even if you have to slow down your pace. After this long run, you’ll have to cap the two running days to 30 minutes, maximum.

Spice Up Your Training Styles

Try to alternate between interval running, fartleks, and tempo runs throughout your schedule to make the most out of your training program.

The interval runs will help you cover longer distances without hitting the wall. To do interval training, run for five or four minutes then, walk for a minute and repeat.

Fartleks, besides having a funny name, can help increase your speed. To cover a fartlek run, try hill sprints and jogging. You can still take breaks at a slower pace, though.

On the other hand, doing a tempo run once during the week means going to your threshold without any breaks. It’s just warming up, running, then cooling down.

Taper Your Training Plan Gracefully

Tapering is essentially just easing down your weekly mileage and workout intensity before the race day to give your body time to recuperate.

The remaining period of week two after the long run should focus more on recovery than on speed workout sessions. You want your body to be in top shape right before the race.

For the last two days, try not to stress too much about the half marathon. You should show up to the event well-rested and ready to run.

A crucial part of tapering is a balanced diet. Carb loading right before the race day helps your muscles store the glycogen you need to keep going.

Don’t Focus on Strength Training Too Much

A runner has four training categories to consider: speed work, endurance, strength, and cross. However, two weeks aren’t enough to notice any significant improvement from strength training.

By the end of week two, it’s better to ditch the fartleks and any other strength workouts from your training plan. Maybe keep weight lifting off your half marathon training plan, too.

Instead, make endurance your number one priority with a bit of speed work. Supplement your training schedule with cross-training sessions to boost your fitness.

Take Breaks Often

Some people might think that the key to racing events is to take the entire track straight on. Any experienced runner will tell you that this is a fast way to hit the wall.

Slow down for a break often and use the time to enjoy a drink, reapply sunscreen, and take a breather.

Don’t start with your peak performance and wear yourself out fast. Instead, it’s better to start an easy run and increase your pace as you go through several rest intervals.

Work On Your Strides

The phrase “Work smart, not hard” applies to running, too. To make the most out of interval training, you need to end your laps with 30 seconds of strides.

We like to think of strides as an exaggerated running form that helps you peak your performance for a few seconds. Almost like a booster in a video game!

Keep in mind that striding is going to be so much easier if you do dynamic stretches before every run.

Keep Your Goal Pace Realistic

We get that most people want to challenge themselves a bit more in every race. However, with a short training period, you might not be able to focus on speed exercises.

Try to aim for your current pace or the last race pace you ran. This way, it won’t be too difficult for you to finish the half marathon.

The main goal of this training plan is to get to the finish line. You’ll have other chances to work on your speed later, but for now, keep your expectations realistic.

Don’t Wear Anything New for the Race Day

Running Shoes

You might be tempted to save the best outfit you have for the race, but trust us, you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice.

As a golden rule for racing events: Never wear anything new, especially not shoes. That’s because most running shoes need to be broken in before they get comfortable.

The running outfit you used for the training plan is a safe option. Plus, after all this exercise, you’ll know your gear inside-out!

How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 2 Weeks: FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions we hear all the time regarding the half marathon training guide:

Q: How long is a half marathon track?

A: The half marathon is around 21 kilometers or 13.1 miles. In terms of distance, it ranks between the 10k and the marathon.

However, in terms of popularity, it comes after the 5k.

Q: What’s the average time for a half marathon race?

A: We consider two and a half hours a good timing for your first half marathon. As you get more experienced, you’ll cut down on this time significantly.

So far, the fastest timing recorded for a half marathon is just over 57 mins. Quite impressive!

Q: How can I calculate my race pace?

A: To estimate a suitable pace for you, try the Magic Mile test and time your run. Multiply the result by 1.2 to compensate for any breaks you’ll take during the half marathon.

So, if you took 10 minutes to run a mile during the test, the entire 13.1-mile track could take you around two hours and 37 minutes. Remember to retake the test once every week.

Q: Is the half marathon suitable for beginners?

A: The 13.1-mile run might be a bit much for a beginner runner, especially with such a short training period.

If this is your first racing experience, you might be better off joining a 5k first to build up endurance.

Q: Can you run a half marathon for charity?

A: Yes, you can run a lot of competitive racing events for charity, and the half marathon is no exception. The Move for Hunger is one common example of running for a cause.

If you choose a cause you’re passionate about, you might feel more motivated to do better throughout your training program.

Q: What’s a good way to avoid getting a running injury?

A: Pre-run warm-ups and post-run cooldowns increase flexibility and muscle performance to prevent running injuries, especially for aerobic exercise.

Additionally, keeping a conversational pace can help you focus on perfecting your running form and breathing technique.

Final Thoughts On How to Prepare for a Half Marathon in 2 Weeks

With this simple guide, we hope you know how to prepare for a half marathon in 2 weeks, just in time to join your next challenge.

Starting with four miles on the first week, you can reach a 13-mile long run by day nine of the training plan. It’ll take a bit of commitment, but it’s not unachievable.

For the last couple of days in the second week, you should taper down your training and let your body recover before the big day.

Following a smart training pattern will help your performance in the long run. Just remember to stay safe, know your limits, and listen to your body!